O2 launching 5G in Prague's center, but full coverage depends on upcoming tender

The fast 5G network will be available to customers on selected tariff plans for a symbolic fee

Raymond Johnston

Written by Raymond Johnston
Published on 18.06.2020 10:16 (updated on 18.06.2020)

Telecom company O2 is launching a 5G mobile network in Prague and Kolín. It will cover the wider centers of both Czech cities. The fast internet connection will be available to 15% of the capital’s population.

O2 is the first operator in the Czech Republic to offer 5G to its customers. The company began testing last year in Kolín.

“The new generation of mobile networks will offer up to 10 times the connection speed of a commonly available 4G network. However, 5G is not just about faster downloads. In real-world customer traffic, we now want to test how the network works under load and elements of smart cities and in other strategic areas for the economy,” O2 CEO Jindřich Fremuth said.

“We are entering countries where the 5G network will become available to ordinary customers. Whether and how the expansion of the service will continue also depends on conditions of the auction of frequencies, the current form of which, however, does not support a meaningful investment in further construction,” he added.

5G map
5G coverage areas

O2 Technology Director Jan Hruška explained where the service will be available. “Our customers will be able to join 5G in the center of Kolín and also in Prague in the Old and New Towns, Vinohrady, Nusle, Dejvice and Bubeneč,’ he said.

The operator launched the 5G technology on the 3.7 GHz frequency, which O2 had previously used, supplemented by the Massive MiMo 32T32R and 256QAM technologies. 5G now enables a connection speed of 600/100 Mbps. “If the conditions of the frequency auction allow it, we are ready to increase the available speeds and the percentage of coverage,” Hruška said.

O2 is building the network together with CETIN. “We are testing [5G] in real conditions with the world’s leading suppliers. Last year we launched 5G in Kolín together with Ericsson, now we continue testing with Huawei and Nokia. with various technological partners, they will help us in choosing a supplier for full-area coverage, which has not yet been decided,” Hruška said.

5G networks can be used not only with mobile devices but also for fixed connections of households and companies where traditional cable internet is not fast enough. The features of 5G networks will also enable the massive development of the Internet of Things and the associated expansion of solutions for the automation of production, smart cities, and households. The new generation of mobile internet will find application, for example, in transport, virtual reality, industry and production process management, sports, but also in the field of healthcare.

To connect to the 5G mobile internet, customers need a 5G phone in addition to coverage and a tariff package.

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All customers of the unlimited NEO Zlatý and Platinový as well as FREE+ Bronzový, Stříbrný and Zlatý tariffs will get the opportunity to surf on the fastest network, for a symbolic 1 CZK per month. Customers of these tariffs, including those who use them in O2 Spolu packages, will be able to activate the 5G trial package in the Moje O2 online self-service from July.

An auction of frequencies for 5G networks in the Czech Republic is being prepared, and its aim is to attract new operators and thus increase competition on the market. The Czech Telecommunication Office (ČTÚ) expects to start the tender during this summer. This date was first from last autumn to January, and in November it was announced that the ČTÚ wants to allocate frequencies for fast 5G mobile networks to the winners of the auction on July 1.